What we do


We are a research business, specialising in the mining industry. Our services are aimed at mining-service companies (suppliers, consultants, contractors and professional firms). There are two arms to our business. 

MINING EDGE

First, we offer a monthly subscription service (Mining Edge) that combines: 

- reports on mining and associated processing projects
- promotional assistance to subscribers in reaching key people involved with projects and operating mines

Subscriptions can be quarterly or annual (see Order Form above). 

CONSULTANCY

Second, we undertake consultancy work for clients, ranging from providing strategic advice, to analysis of market trends and assistance with specific market opportunities. 

FURTHER INFORMATION

For further information on our services, including sample project reports, please contact us at 0411 478307 or melbourne@resourcesmonitor.com.au. 



Source: Stephen Codrington



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Mining Notes

 



LITHIUM: BRIGHT OUTLOOK FOR AUSTRALIA

1 August 2018

 

A decade ago, there was one operating lithium mine in Australia: Greenbushes (south of Perth).

 

How there are six, all in Western Australia.

 

Behind this expansion lies expected strong growth in sales of electric vehicles, which use lithium-ion batteries (see footnote).

 

Annual global sales, which were a little over 1 million in 2017, are commonly forecast to reach 10 million by 2025.

 

This is driving continuing strong expansion of Western Australia’s lithium sector, both in mining and the refining of lithium into higher-grade products.

 

For example, Talison Lithium announced last month a further expansion of its Greenbushes lithium mine, the world’s largest.

 

In addition, the company’s owners – Tianqi Lithium of China and Albemarle of the US – are each developing their own refinery in Western Australia, to be in production in 2019 (Tianqi Lithium) and 2021 (Albemarle) respectively.

 

Others are considering refinery developments, including some other lithium miners (e.g. Mineral Resources) in Australia and the major Chilean company, SQM (working with Australian company, Kidman Resources).

 

 

A Chinese electric car. China accounted for over 45% of global sales in 2017. Notwithstanding expected strong sales growth in Europe and North America, China’s market domination is expected to continue.

 

Will lithium production keep up with forecast demand? Opinions vary.

 

Lithium mining companies typically share the view of Australia company, Orocobre (which is active in Argentina), that “demand growth is going to outstrip projected new supply” for some time.

 

However, in separate reports issue in March this year, US investment bank Morgan Stanley and consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie forecast that supply will catch up as from next year.

 

In a report of June 2018, the consultancy company, McKinsey, says (more cautiously) that “given the increase in lithium supply over the next several years, we see a balanced market for lithium by 2025”.

 

Whatever the outcome for supply, Australia is well-placed to take advantage of the forecast boom in lithium demand.

 

In 2017, it produced 43% of the world’s mined lithium, ahead of Chile (33%), Argentina (13%) and China (7%).

 

As a lithium miner, it is clearly competitive; existing mines have room for expansion; and new mines are likely to be developed.

 

What about refining, which is currently dominated by China?

 

Of refined products, both lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide can be used in batteries, with lithium hydroxide gaining in support by battery makers.

 

In this context, it is relevant that Australia depends on the mining of hard rock, while South America depends mainly on the extraction of lithium from brines (China depends on both). 

 

As explained by McKinsey, “while the cost of producing lithium carbonate from hard rock is far more expensive than from brines, the cost of producing lithium hydroxide from hard rock can be very competitive”.

 

With planned refineries in Australia designed to produce lithium hydroxide, the outlook for this sector is also promising.

 

 

Footnote: These batteries are so-called because lithium ions form the electrolyte, the section of the battery carrying the charge between the anode and the cathode. (An ion is an atom or molecule with a net electric charge due to the loss or gain of one or more electrons.)